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Ideas and techniques for teaching english language learners


This article is devoted to the bilingual programs providing English as a second language (ESL) instruction to build students' English skills.

Keywords: Audio materials , ESL, techniques, visual aids, multimedia.

People who are speakers of languages other than English are typically taught to read in one of two ways. Some are taught in their native language and then transitioned to English at some point after first grade. These bilingual programs also provide English as a second language (ESL) instruction to build students' English skills. The alternative is to teach in English but provide support to help children succeed. Students would typically spend time with an ESL teacher, but would be taught in English from the outset.

  1. Repeat and Re-phrase:
  • The repeat and re-phrase technique is effective in classrooms because a student may know various vocabulary words and now know the ones that the teacher is using. By using this technique the teacher exposes the student to new vocabulary that can be associated with the old to acquire a meaning. The student benefit by both the repetition, as the source of learning new vocabulary, and the use of old vocabulary to form a re-phrased question in order to acquire a new and better understanding of the English language.
  • This techniques can be used during oral instruction given to the class or an individual student. It can also be applied during question and answer time in class, and is optimal for such a use as it provides students with an opportunity to better understand the question and answer it without help. This promotes a higher level learning, understanding, and self-confidence in students.
  • The repeat and re-phrase strategy is used in the classroom to promote, achieve, or ensure, understanding of a given topic, standard, or question. For example: if a student doesn't understand the question "what is the meaning of an adjective?" Then the teacher can respond by either repeating, and/or if understanding is still not reached, re-phrasing the question to promote the student's application of knowledge. The question could be rephrased as: "What does an adjective do?" This also helps with future questions as the student will better understand the meaning of the posed question.

Additionally, the repeat and re-phrase can be used to question for understanding by re-phrasing a sentence to check if the student properly understood the meaning of a particular word or concept. For example: "The girl avoided the water." Used to teach the vocabulary term "avoid."

Questioning for understanding could be phrased as: "If she avoided the water, then she isn't wet." The teacher can ask whether this is correct or not and the students can better understand what the term means and its uses.

  1. Music and jazz chant activities:
  • Music and jazz chant activities are effective in the classroom because it is easy for music to get stuck in ones head. Think of the things you learned as a child just through song. Additionally, it gives the class a fun way to remember or recall sometimes tedious information, creating a more engaging and fun environment for learning topics and concepts that are generally hard.
  • The music and jazz chant activities can be used during memorization activities. As a means of participation to learn new words or short concepts. Remembering lists, rules, and the like. This is a fantastic way to memorize the alphabet, periodic table, states, countries, etc.
  • The expected outcome is that students will more easily remember large amounts of important information. Students will be involved in the introduction of new material in a fun and interesting way. This is especially beneficial for younger students.
  1. Visual aides, maps, pictures, multimedia:
  • Visual aides and the like are effective in that they can provide students with a better grasp of the concept than any other word. "This is the object that matches the word." No matter what level the student is, they can understand the relationship between the two and easily grasp the new word or concept. In addition, these sorts of techniques spice up the classroom and keep things interesting. It is easy for a language class to become dull with repetition and writing. But, by implementing the use of various visual and audio aides the class can remain focused, but also entertained.
  • These strategic examples can be used as an introduction to vocabulary terms, concepts, teaching places (names/locations), teaching specific behaviors (cultural). Additionally, teaching parts of speech can be done using these media as visual aides for actions, colors, etc. Multimedia can also be used to show language in practical use, dialog, or visual or audio to materials read. Audio samples can also be used in teaching sounds of letters or words.
  • The learning outcome of this is that students will gain a better understanding of materials presented, and it can provide a second way of learning (visually). Students also have examples of the materials presented and a visual to put to the word.
  1. Cooperative Groups, Peer Coaching:
  • This technique optimizes personalized student learning time as each student can get personalized attention even if it is not given by the teacher. This is also helpful when the teacher is not suppose to be the focus of activities and instead can move from table to table and help as needed. It creates a community setting and gets students into helping each other and learning from each other. Cooperative groups work because there are many ways to break students into groups that allow them personally catered lessons on their level.
  • Placing students in cooperative groups or using peer coaching is especially helpful in an ELL classroom where students are or can be at mixed levels of learning English. When this is the case it is best to place them in groups that are chosen by the teacher in a manner that places higher level students with lower level ones. In this way the higher level student is learning, practicing, and perfecting techniques through teaching; and the lower level student is acquiring new knowledge and receiving help from a peer. This can also be used to place higher level students together to work on an assignment while the lower level students stay with the teacher to learn new information. In this way the teacher is able is optimize learning by provide new information to both levels without actually having to make one or the other sit through information that is either below or above their learning level.
  • The learning outcome of this strategy is that students are able to take in more information at one time while developing relationships and community amongst themselves. Additionally, by using this technique students will learn from each other. Many times, youths are more prone to hear out their peers over adults. Naturally, this caters to those thoughts and allows students to take in the needed knowledge, but in a way that is more entertaining. Working in groups also provides the teacher with many new lesson options to keep the classroom engaging and motivating.
  1. Pre-instruction activities (semantic webbing, graphic organizers, KWL charts):
  • Pre-instruction activities are generally effective because they provide an easy break-in to new information. Additionally, they provide the students with notes, or something to look back on to relate the new information with the old so that the concept is easier to grasp. For instance, a chart may compare new materials with old thus drawing a line between to the two that the student can follow. These activities also draw the student into the new concept to keep them motivated and interested in what is being taught.
  • The pre-instruction technique could be applied in the introduction of a new concept or idea; or it can be applied to the planning of a project or paper that will be written by the student. Additionally, the teacher can use this technique to give instructions or notes on a topic that the student will later research and/or develop alone.
  • From this technique, the learning outcome is that the students will acquire important information that will help during the new unit of study or planning of a project that will require a lot of independent work. This is optimal to create a means of providing information that the students can later apply to other work in that lesson or unit. Conclusion

Teaching English language learners can be challenging, problems seem to arise from all directions. However, this challenge doesn't have to rub off on onto your students. The following are ideas and techniques to spice up your ESL classroom and make lessons more interesting and effective.

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